Parker looks forward to "more inclusive" event

By Tema Hemi

The organisers of an event aimed at Whanganui High School students have to consider whether they should open the invite to a closed evening with boxer Joseph Parker.

The local community supports the opportunity for students to hear from the former world heavyweight contender amidst allegations of racism.

Parker says he won't disappoint the kids who are expecting to meet him.   

"We've decided that if everyone's involved and if everyone comes to listen to our speech obviously we're going to go down and speak to the kids."

This follows accusations of racism from parents whose children weren't included in a closed event.  Parker thinks the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

A flyer about the event was misinterpreted as being racist and sexist by only inviting Māori and Pacific Island boys. This caused a major reaction in the community.   

But Parker says he wasn't aware of how the invite was issued by the event organisers.

"It took me by surprise, the first time I saw it was last night," he said. "Obviously, David asked me if I wanted to attend and talk to the students and I said 'yeah, let's go for it.' It's always good to give back and inspire and motivate."

Te Kāea contacted Whanganui High School today who said they won't be commenting until after a meeting with the school board this afternoon.

At approximately 4:30pm this afternoon, Parker's camp released a statement saying they've talked with school principal Martin McAllen and the school is open to holding a more inclusive event.

Duco Events director David Higgins has said, " I can confirm that I have a had a fruitful conversation with Whanganui High School principal Martin McAllen this afternoon.  We very quickly cleared up any misunderstandings around Joseph Parker's planned visit to the school and both parties are now on the same page."

He said, "We've expressed that we would like a more inclusive event that was originally proposed and the school is very much open to that.  We now look firming [sic] to firming up the details of Joseph visit to the school - which is something he is very much looking forward to."